Six Most Common Mistakes Made Every Day By Hiring Managers

Focus on your business needs during your interview process, and you’ll find the best new hire time after time.

Six Most Common Mistakes Made Every Day By Hiring Managers


By Bradley Cotlar, Owner & Chief Matchmarker, Benchmarkinc Recruiting

Fact: Twenty-nine percent of candidates declined a job offer because of the interview process. That means that at least 29% of the time interviewers make such a poor impression that qualified candidates would rather stay unemployed than work for them. The truth is that few interviewers are trained to conduct excellent interviews and many hiring managers think they can just wing it during interviews, not investing the time, energy or concentration that effective job interviewing requires.

We’re all busy, so finding the time to prepare to conduct a job interview can be tough. But if you spend a little bit of time getting prepared, you’ll add a lot more value to the hiring process and make better decisions.

Let’s start with the three basic issues that must be addressed in every interview:

·      First, can they do the job? Since you asked them to interview, the assumption is that they have what it takes. Resumes can be falsified, so make sure you ask a few questions to confirm or elaborate on their experience.

·      Second, will they do the job? This may seem to be a foolish question, but too often, highly qualified employees do not show initiative, enthusiasm, or creativity when faced with problems to solve or even routine tasks. Ask about examples of their past experience and see if they come alive and demonstrate that they take pride in their work and will take responsibility to increase quality levels, ensure customer satisfaction or meet deadlines, etc.

·      Finally, will they fit in? This question is critical to the successful outcome of any hire for any position. No matter how technically qualified they may be for a position, “fitting in” is even more important. Many employers will take a chance on a less qualified candidate (can you do the job) if the person demonstrates enthusiasm for learning (will you do the job) and if the person appears to fit in.

Now, let’s talk about the six most common mistakes made every day by hiring managers, and the steps you can take to avoid them.

1.     Fail to define a clear picture of the job requirements

If you don’t see a target clearly, chances are you will miss it. Do you have a clear picture in your mind of the performance you want to see from the position you are filling? Are you and the other people interviewing candidates in agreement on what you are looking for in the person you hire? Make sure to get everyone involved in the hiring process together in a room. Agree on the priorities of the job and the kind of accomplishments that make a candidate a top contender. You would be surprised at how rarely this happens in some companies.

2.     Fail to create a scorecard for the interview

Before the first interview takes place, create an interview scorecard that lists the key accomplishments and skills you want in the person you hire. You might have seven criteria (sales skills, organizational skills, leadership abilities, etc.) for which each interviewer scores the candidate from 1-5. This helps you to grade every candidate objectively against criteria that are important for the job.

3.     Fail to ask open-ended, accomplishment-oriented questions

If you had to walk into an interview right now, with zero preparation, could you ask good interview questions and learn everything necessary to make a judgment about the candidate? Unless you are a professional interviewer who hires hundreds of candidates a year, the answer is likely no. Having open-ending probing questions prepared in advance is paramount to a good interview. Of course, with more preparation you can ask more focused questions. Open-ended follow-up questions allow the candidate to describe what he or she has accomplished in life and the opportunity to provide details that prove their expertise.

4.     Fail to listen

When you conduct an interview, what percentage of time do you spend talking? In most interviews, if the percentage exceeds 25%, you’re talking too much. Here’s how to fix that problem:

  • You should be asking questions, listening, asking a follow-up question, listening, and then repeating the process. Stop telling and start asking and listening during the interview process. Your hiring decisions will improve.

5.     Fail to do a post-game debrief

Optimally, you should have multiple people interview a candidate. If you don’t, you should. You get the most value from having multiple people interview a candidate. Immediately after everyone has interviewed the candidate, or as quickly as possible thereafter, do a post-game debriefing to discuss your impressions. You’ll be amazed at what other people catch that you miss and vice versa.

6.      Take way too long to make a decision

Three rounds of interviews, a working interview, and three weeks to get through the interview process is unappealing to candidates. Unless this is a highly sought after job or the candidate is extremely desperate, you will lose a large majority of qualified employees due to your laborious procedure. Offers need to be prepared and presented by the second interview, with the hiring process not taking more than four days.

To avoid a prolonged interview process, the following protocol will have you prepared with a set method in determining the best hire for your business.

Create an interview agenda

Build an outline for the entire interview. The interview should be no more than 45 minutes. Sketch out the framework, with a set length of time for each section, covering information about the company, the job scope, position requirements, compensation, time to find out about the candidate through probing questions, and leave a few minutes at the end for questions and answers.

Zero in on the candidate

Before asking the first interview question, review the job description, especially the hiring criteria, as well as everything the candidate has submitted: resume, cover letter, online profile, and any other pertinent materials. This preparation is a significant part of the interview process because it allows you to hone in on what you’re looking for in the job candidates you’ll be speaking with. It should give you:

  • Firsthand information about the candidate’s background, work experience and skill level. It’s your chance to clarify what you learned from the resume, profile or previous interviews;
  • A general sense of the candidate’s overall intelligence, aptitude, enthusiasm and attitudes, and whether he or she fits the job; and
  • Evaluation of the candidate’s motivation to tackle job responsibilities, desire to join the company and ability to integrate into the current work team.

Decide what to ask

Prior to the actual interview, write down questions you intend to ask, based on key areas of the candidate’s background. While it’s a good idea to have a core list of questions you ask every candidate, it’s also helpful to jot down some targeted questions in which you wish to gain clarification. Stay focused: Keep your list of questions in front of you during the interview.

Here is an example of a good open-ended probing question:

  • What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishments of your life and your career?

o   Why so?

Try these questions in your next interview; you will be surprised at how much you learn. You can also mix up the types of questions you ask, but ask more open-ended questions since they require more thought on the part of the interviewee and will help the candidate open up. Ask hypothetical questions — two or three at the most — that are framed in the context of an actual job situation. Feel free to ask an off-the-wall question to see how the candidate thinks on their feet.

Make every question count. Pay attention to the candidate’s answers; don’t rehearse your next question in your mind. Although you have your questions written down, don’t hesitate to veer from those if you want to reword or follow up on something, or to eliminate questions that were covered in a candidate’s response to another question.

Hire the best candidate

After you’ve given the candidate a chance to ask questions, close the interview by thanking them for their time, and tell them when to expect to hear from you.

As soon as the candidate leaves from the interview, collect your thoughts and write down your impressions and a summary of your notes. Collect feedback from other interviewers while the interview is fresh in everyone’s mind.

Selecting the right person for a position in your business isn’t easy. If you find yourself second-guessing your decision, let the hiring criteria serve as your guide. Make sure any changes you make to your hiring criteria are because of a workplace need and not because you’re enamored with a particular candidate for subjective reasons. Focus on your business needs during your interview process, and you’ll find the best new hire time after time.

Great candidates are very hard to find. Current data reveals that there are three times as many companies looking to hire as those wanting a job in the market at any given time. Thus, further proving the importance of having solid interviewing techniques. If you adopt the above outlined principles, then your chance of losing your next incredible employee is greatly reduced. Best of all, you can spend more time increasing sales in your company instead of conducting an excessive amount of interviews.

You should be asking questions, listening, asking a follow-up question, listening, and then repeating the process.